BB Squared: Beautiful Brains, Bold Bodies

Starting and Celebrating Conversations About Differences

My Adventures in Job Searching May 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:19 am

When I first started looking for a job the semester before I finished graduate school, I briefly had the naive that it would be fun. I was – and still am – excited by the idea that my degree in Rehabilitation didn’t force me into a particular job, and I thought that via the internet I would land on some exciting opportunities then after going on five interviews or something I would get the nod and start working in an exciting new position. Two-and-a-half years later I am burnt out on cover letters and resumes, involved in volunteer work that I love where I am respected and appreciated, and hoping that a paid position will come along from somewhere eventually.

My explanation of this journey was inspired by this article by Rebekah Garriock which was published the other day in the Globe and Mail (a Toronto newspaper): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/the-essay/my-wheelchair-job-search/article2445712/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A+RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=Home&utm_content=2445712 where Rebekah discusses her own struggles with the job search. My personal favourite quote was:

“Most people don’t realize that, for a person in my circumstances, a “real” job is an affirmation that I belong, that I can contribute and that I am normal. ”

Although I have written about this recently, I feel it bears repeating, that I wanted to shout, “Can I get an amen?” to that statement. Yes, I need to remember that every person’s life is a unique journey but there are so many positive things that go along with having a job. I would be earning my own income for the first time in  my life, I would be able to begin the process of looking for a place to live independently because there would no longer be a risk of having to move for a potential job, if I ever decide to go on a dating website I would not feel weird about telling possible dates that I am not employed.

I will say once again that I love knowing that an organization I am going to be part of will work with the tension of celebrating differences and helping those of us with them, and also making it possible for us to know and live the truth that we are not so different from other people. Living both of those truths simultaneously is not an easy task for a person or an organization to do, but I know that BB Squared will do that to the best of its ability.

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I would like to encourage you to visit Rebekah’s own blog at success@bility.ca. Thanks for both the article and blog, Rebekah!

 

“It’s A Small World After All” May 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:18 am

There is something I have noticed about the differences’ community both here and in Illinois. It’s not hard to find two people who know each other or have a friend, or someone they work with, in common. In some ways I love this, I remember sitting in graduate classes in Illinois and grinning when I heard that someone from the agency where I was a practicum student had gone to give a presentation at the agency where my friend was doing her work. I get the same feeling when I hang out with my Ontario friends with differences and someone says, “Oh, I already know _____ , we play baseball together!” Without fail I always think or say, “Should we sing the “It’s a Small World After All” song?

But today I started to wonder, maybe there is a negative side to this being one of my not-so-secret theme songs for the differences community? Maybe if we got out in the community more, it wouldn’t be so easy to play connect-the-dots with us? This actually may be untrue, as whether we had more people involved in our lives or not, there would probably still be activities – both fun and not-so-much – that we would have in common, but I still think my point demonstrates the value of having a variety of friends and relationships. I believe BB Squared will help with that; even if whatever we do created for people with differences, I hope and believe that BB Squared will be a jumping-off point for people to build other types of relationships of all kinds. And I know that even if this is the case, there will be times when I will sing our theme song in my head (or not…apologies in advance. 🙂 ), smile, and appreciate the beauty of connection.

 

 

Who I Am, Who We Are May 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 6:27 pm

I once was talking to a friend who has a difference when he said something like, “I’m not necessarily making it my goal to work with people with differences, but I keep getting drawn to that kind of work.” He went on to say that he enjoys working with people with differences, he simply does not want to get “pigeon-holed” into a certain category. I told him that made perfect sense to me and wondered aloud if I emphasize my identity as a person with a difference too much.

As I’ve said before, I enjoy that my difference means that I have something unique about me right from the start. However, I sometimes wonder if, by embracing this part of my identity so strongly, I neglect to weave it properly into my sense of self as simply part of who I am, not the whole. If I think about it, it appears that Jill does a much better job of this than I and if you were to ask her to talk about her primary identity perhaps she would say that she is a woman with an endless amount of ideas, or that she is an integral part of a loving family. 

I am nowhere near solving the puzzle of how I should define myself, but here is what I can tell you: even though BB Squared will have a mission of supporting persons with differences and educating others about them, our goal isn’t to make sure people have the best possible “life with a difference,” our goal is to make sure that people have the best possible life, so that they can fully embrace all parts of themselves. I have no doubt that I will learn an enormous amount about how to be my best complete self from BB Squared, and I hope you will come along for the ride.

 

Loving Life Means Loving to Learn May 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 8:44 am

One of the greatest gifts that my time at university gave to me was giving myself permission to view everything in my life as a learning experience. This was actually incredibly freeing to me because it meant that I was allowed to celebrate every little thing I accomplished as a success; if I got to class on time, that meant that I had done a good job of picking responsible Personal Support Workers, and giving them enough time to get me ready, for example.

I am realizing these days that this concept has another aspect to it; if one desires to consider everything a learning experience, that means that a person has to be willing to embrace learning in whatever form it comes and from whomever it comes Someone who has never had training in working with persons with differences might have a brilliant idea in terms of how to improve an aspect of their lives. Someone who has less than ten years experience in a field might realize something that a person who has been in a field for thirty years has never considered.  I’m learning that people have to be open to suggestions and constructive criticism from any source that is willing to provide it; only then will they truly be as successful as possible.

Fortunately, I think the minds behind BB Squared are very aware of this truth. We are creative, hardworking people who want to come up with the most innovative idea possible, and we are willing to go to great lengths in order to figure out what that idea is. We are not afraid of failure, but neither do we want to entertain an idea that we do not perceive to be “good enough” if we feel something better is out there.  BB Squared desires to always be a place of learning; we want to learn from you the readers and any other source we can, so that we are continually loving life through learning more of the lessons it offers.

 

Laughing at My Life May 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 3:47 pm

I’ve mentioned it before, but my life is often quite funny. Sometimes Jill and I will joke about the things only we can say to each other, that if anyone else walked in on us they would think we were crazy or inappropriate. Often, I’ll even laugh at situations that no one else finds funny, probably because they are frustrated by something. As much as this probably annoys my friends, I will always consider the laughter in my life, in whatever form it comes one of the greatest gifts given to me by my difference. It isn’t just me who laughs, either, often I can tell if someone has really embraced differences when they start laughing about them. I have also always loved being teased good naturedly about my difference and how it affects me; some of my favourite people are the ones who began teasing me immediately after meeting me. It told me that they immediately understood that I was just like them, and that they could already tell that I had embraced my difference as part of who I am.

I really like part of this post by Wheelie cATHOLIC, which, while ultimately discussing other themes as well, has this to say about disability humor:

“…As I’ve written about before, the subject of humor and disability is a ticklish one. I live surrounded by humor about my disability. In fact, I’d hate to be a quadriplegic who didn’t have a sense of humor. but it’s a lot different for me to make a joke about my disability than to be turned into a joke by someone else. People I highly respect in the disability community have pointed out that humor about disability,when created by people with disabilities, is the most acceptable form. Interestingly enough, however, disabled people are sometimes told what we can or cannot laugh at about ourselves, perhaps because it makes nondisabled people uncomfortable.

For example, the other day when I was on Twitter, I saw Roger Ebert tweet that he was giving up eating and drinking for Lent. This is an example of a form of personal disability humor, one that I often use…” (Please read the whole post from which the above words are quoted so that I do not misrepresent what this blogger was trying to say, because her point is different from mine.)

Essentially, I love how disability humor can unite persons with disabilities as well as those who work and “do life” with us.  For me, it all comes back to having that feeling of belonging. Humour reminds us what is good about our lives, it unites us, it (can) relieve tension, create optimism, break down barriers and a host of other things. I believe BB Squared will be a place where this theme is demonstrated as well, and I cannot wait to see the community that forms because of it.